Les Significations de L’Eclipse 1559 :
Origins and publishing history
Les Significations de l’Eclipse du 16 Septembre 1559 contains a series of predictions, based on the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse. It also contains a reply to critics of Nostradamus, especially to Hercules le François, pseudonym of the author of La Premiere Invective du Seigneur Hercules le Francois, contre Monstradamus, published in 1557 by either Pierre Roux (Avignon) or Michel Roux (Lyon).1 Les Significations… is dedicated to Jacques-Marie Sala, bishop of Viviers and vice-legat.2
According to bibliographical data in Les Significations…, its writing started in 1558, shortly after the completion of the Almanach 1559.3 The writing was finished on August 14, 1558.4 Les Significations… was published in Paris by Guillaume le Noir. Le Noir did not mention the year of publishing.5
In 1589, Jean-Aimé de Chavigny published Receuil des présages prosaiques de m. Michel de Nostradame in Grenoble. The Recueil… contains the Présages en vers, which is a compilation of 151 four-line verses, known as the Présages, and twelve books (the Présages en prose) with commentaries on Almanachs and Pronostications. The September 1559 Lunar Eclipse is the subject of comments in the last part of book 4.6
In 1879, the French abbot Henri Torné-Chavigny wrote a letter in which he discussed the relation between Les Significations… and the decease of Henry II. He also mentioned borrowings from the Eclipsium omnium 1554 - 1606, written by Leovitius in 1556.7
In 1904, Les Significations… was reprinted in facsimile by Henri Douchet in Méricourt-l’Abbé, thanks to the French abbot Hector Rigaux. The above-mentioned letter from Torné-Chavigny was added as a kind of preface. Copies of the 1904-reprint are preserved in the British Library, the French National Library and the Paul Arbaud Museum in Aix-en-Provence, France.8
In 1999, Bernard Chevignard published Présages de Nostradamus, which includes the Présages en vers, the first four books of the Présages en prose, two Pronostications (1557 and 1558), Les Significations… and an English translation of the Présages in the Almanach 1559.
The second century of the Prophecies
Les Significations… contains a reference to a writing in which Nostradamus explains the second century.9 Since the writing of Les Significations… was finished on August 14, 1558 (according to its bibliographical data), Les Significations… contains the earliest known reference to the Centuries. This reference implies that there is some correspondence between Les Significations… and quatrains in the second Century. It also implies that Nostradamus might have written interpretations of other Centuries.
The search for the interpretation by Nostradamus of the second Century - as well as for his interpretations of the other Centuries - has always been in vain. In his treatise on the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, De Chavigny wrote that it was never seen.10
Halbronn’s doubts about authenticity
For dr. Jacques Halbronn, the authenticity of Les Significations… was not evident. In his thesis Le texte prophétique en France. Formation et fortune (1999), he quoted an English translation of a prediction for June 1559 :
Fraunce to be greatly augmented, to triumphe, to magnifie and specially his ovvne monarke.11
Halbronn noted that this prediction contains no allusion to the fatal accident of Henry II on June 30, 1559, nor to his decease on July 10, 1559, and considered it highly dubious that Nostradamus predicted this event.12
In Les Significations…, a conjunction was mentioned between Mars in the eighth house of the horoscope of the Eclipse and the Fixed Star Antares. This was copied from the Eclipsium omnium… and elaborated.13 According to Les Significations…, this Mars-Antares conjunction points to violent and sudden deaths and someone’s decease in public.14 According to Halbronn, this conjunction points to the nature of the fatal accident of Henry II : a deadly wound near the eye.15 Despite this, he maintained his thesis that the allusions to the decease of Henry II and Francis II were made after their decease.
Another reason for Halbronn to doubt the authenticity of Les Significations… was the abbreviation H.T.H.N.S. This abbreviation has the same features as the abbreviations, written by De Chavigny in his Pléiades.16
Halbronn also doubted the authenticity of Les Significations… because of the mentioning of the term Century. If around 1558 the term Century was common, as the classification of the 1555-Bonhomme-edition and the 1557-Du Rosne editions suggest, a reference to Centuries would be obvious. However, contemporary critics of Nostradamus like Couillard (1556) and Videl (1558) always referred to Prophecies instead of Centuries.17
Gruber’s arguments in favour of authenticity
Dr. Elmar R. Gruber attributes Les Significations… to Nostradamus. To Gruber, it does not make sense that long after the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, an antedated booklet was published, containing predictions about the impact of this Eclipse. In his essay Reconsidering the Nostradamus plot, his arguments in favour of the authenticity of Les Significations… are as follows :
In all probability, Nostradamus had in mind to publish a rejoinder to his critics, but he knew very well that such a book would be hard to sell. The public at large was not interested in fierce debates. Hence, he decided to take advantage of the impending eclipse of the moon, to issue an interpretation of this prodigious sign in which he would also include a heated reply to his detractors. Most likely he wanted to bring the book out soon and did not want to lose time by writing a piece about the coming eclipse on his own. Therefore he relied on the work by Leovitius and had the brilliant idea of changing the subject from the interpretation of the celestial phenomenon without further notice on fol. Biir in the middle of a sentence and turn to the topic of the counter-attack - which was his central idea for this publication in the first place. 18
Incompatible astrological descriptions
The zodiacal longitude of Mars, 7:32 Sagittarius, was not mentioned in Les Significations…, only its house position : in the eighth house, not far away from Antares.19
In June 2003, an examination of astrological data in Les Significations… lead to new findings.20 Mars was also mentioned in the introductory part. According to this part, Mars was located in the midst of heaven, in square with the South Lunar Node.21 A recalculation of the horoscope of the Eclipse with present-day software showed that the zodiacal longitude of Mars was 5:25:48 Capricorn, conjunct the MC on 0:45:01 Capricorn. According to these calculations, Mars was in the tenth house (the midst of heaven) and in square with the South Lunar Node on 0:15:23 Libra. There were no planets in the eighth house. The Grandes Ephémérides by Gabriel (Trédaniel publishers, Paris, volume 1) also showed a zodiacal longitude of Mars in the beginning of Capricorn.22 When the zodiacal longitude of Mars would be 7:32 Sagittarius, Mars could not be in square with the South Lunar Node.
The findings about the zodiacal longitude of Mars lead to two important conclusions. The first conclusion was that the horoscope of the Eclipse, drawn by Leovitius, contains a mistake. Mars is not located on 7:32 Sagittarius in the eighth house, but on the sixth degree of Capricorn in the tenth house, conjunct the MC. The reference by Leovitius to a Mars-Antares conjunction in the eighth house is wrong and his predictions, based on this conjunction in the eighth house, are invalid.
The second conclusion was that during the writing of Les Significations…, this mistake was overlooked. A horoscope was calculated with Mars in the tenth house. This location, the correct location, was described in the introductory part of Les Significations…, including the square of Mars with the South Lunar Node. However, it was presented together with the borrowing of the Mars-Antares conjunction in the eighth house, as supposed by Leovitius. The author of Les Significations…, who elaborated its impact, overlooked the mistake in the horoscope, calculated by Leovitius and did not realize that the two descriptions are incompatible.23
Traditional rules regarding the time span of predictions, based on Eclipses
The traditional rules of determining time spans of Solar and Lunar Eclipses are made by Ptolemy and recorded in the Tetrabiblos.24 The number of hours of a Solar Eclipse reflects the number of years of the impact. The number of hours of a Lunar Eclipse reflects the number of months. The impact of a Solar or Lunar Eclipse always starts after its occurrence. The culmination of the impact depends on the location of the Eclipse near the Ascendant, Descendant, or MC. According to these rules, no such thing as a pre-impact exists. Ptolemy does not give a time determination system by means of the ruler of the Eclipse and the author of this essay does not know any such system.
Nostradamus knew the Ptolemaic rules regarding the determination of the time span of a Lunar Eclipse. In the Pronostication nouvelle pour l’an mil cinq cens cinquante & huict, he discussed the Lunar Eclipse of April 2, 1558, 12:32. Its impact would last several months. Nostradamus referred to Ptolemy, without the mentioning of a pre-impact :
...son sinistre presage durera autant de moys comme quadruplicant les heures de sa duration [...] comme afferme Ptolomée en son second livre de Quadripar. chap 7 au milieu...25
The time span calculations by Leovitius
The full title, printed at the beginning of the predictions by Leovitius, based on the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, reads :
Praedictio astrologica ad annum dominum 1559 & 1560. Referenda estautem potissimum ad finem anni domini 1559. Deinde ad principium anni domini 1560. Quia tunc effectus eclipsis Lunaris faevient quae anno domini 1559. die 16.Septembris fiet, ut supra in descriptione progressionis eclipsium annotatum extat.
Regarding the length of the impact, the title reads that the impact begins on September 16, 1559, and ends in the beginning of 1560. The end date, given by Leovitius in his description of the hours of duration of the Eclipse and the length of the time span, is January 4, 1560. He applied the Ptolemaic rules regarding the determination of the time span of a Lunar Eclipse. He also specified the calculation of this time span.
According to the Eclipsium omnium…, the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse started at 16:05 and ended at 19:47. Its duration was 3 hours and 42 minutes. In the case of this Eclipse, 1 hour equals 30 days ; 30 minutes equal 15 days, 15 minutes equal 7,5 days, 5 minutes equal 2,5 day and 1 minute equals 0,5 day. The 3 hours and 42 minutes equal 112 days. Counting from September 16, 1559 as day #1, the impact ends on January 4, 1560 = day #112.
It looks as if the full French title of Les Significations… also indicates a time span of several months :
Les Significations de l’Eclipse, qui sera le 16 Septembre 1559 laquelle fera sa maligne extension inclusivement, jusques à l’an 1560 diligemment observées par maistre Michel Nostradamus, docteur en medecine de Salon de Craux en Provence. Avec une sommaire responce à ses detracteurs.
The words jusques à l’an 1560 seem to mean : until the year 1560, instead of : including the year 1560.
In Présages en prose, book 4, section D’un autre presage sur la mesme année , item #342 reads :
Si dans les quatre parties de l’année adviennent aucunes estranges adventures, les fault attendre dans le revolu de ces trois mois, Septembre, Octobre, Novembre & la moitié de Decembre, par l’influence de l’Eclipse. Et puis ce qu’on attendra se prolongera pour quelque temps.26
This prediction refers to a time span of a couple of months, from September to mid-December 1559. In this period, the Sun moved from the first degree of Libra to the first degree of Capricorn. No pre-impact of the Lunar Eclipse is mentioned, neither a time span until the end of 1560.
The time span of the predictions in Les Significations…
According to Les Significations…, the impact of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse covers 1559 and 1560. In the introductory lines, the time span is defined as stretching until the end of 1560.27
The impact starts in March 1559 and is clearly noticeable from June 1559. This is based on Mars, the ruler of the Eclipse, located in the tenth house.28 The time span begins in March 1559, 6 months before the Eclipse. The time span ends at the end of 1560, almost 15 months after the Eclipse. Included and emphasized are: the fatal accident of Henry II on June 30, 1559, his decease on July 10, 1559, and the decease of Francis II on December 5, 1560.
The second argument for the time span until the end of 1560 is a supposed Mars-Saturn opposition, copied from the horoscope, calculated by Leovitius.29 In this horoscope, Mars on 7:32 Sagittarius is opposite Saturn retrograde on 9:15 Gemini. However, the zodiacal longitude of Mars in Sagittarius is incorrect. Mars is located in Capricorn. There is no Mars-Saturn opposition.
The time span until the end of 1560 is also given in Présages en prose, book 4, section Extrait des commentaires sur l’an 1557, item #187 :
Mais quelles miseres, calamitez & facheries nous presage celle eclipse par le reste de ceste année, & Presque de toute celle de 1560 !30
It looks as if this prediction must be read in the context of the preceding items (#184-186) and especially the first line of #186, from which an allusion to the decease of both Henry II and Francis II can be derived :
Quelques uns des plus Grands mourir…
The original nature of the impact of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse
Book 4 of the Présages en prose begins with an extract of comments on the year 1559.31 In item #2, the introduction (mentioned without a dedicacy), it reads :
L’eclipse equinoctial qui apparoistra au mois de Septembre presage de si terribles avantures couchant les esmotions ecclesiastiques que, nonobstant ce que j’avois proposé… 32
This means that the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse will cause religious troubles. These kind of troubles are also mentioned in item #130, which deals with June 1559, as a kind of pre-impact of the Eclipse :
Le mal aux Ecclesiastiques presagé par l’eclipse est plus tost icy, & en plusieurs lieux provenir par mutination en la religion. DIEU pacifiera le tout.33
The impact of the Lunar Eclipse on religious matters is also described in item #184, following the présage for September 1559 :
Dans ce mois l’eclipse Lunaire apparoissant en signes equinoctiaux presage quelque grande chose ès divines ceremonies. Quinetiam aequinoctialia signa in sacerdotibus ac ceremoniis Deorum significationem habent [bien plus, les signes équinoxiaux trouvent leur sens dans le clergé et les rites sacrés].34
Book 4 also contains parts of another prediction for the same year.35 This set of predictions contains an introduction, dedicated to the cardinal of Lorraine. In item #305, the impact of the Lunar Eclipse on religious matters is described like this :
L’eclipse Lunaire, qui est à l’opposite du temps vernal, vient à signifier quelque tumulte & esmotion en la religion Chrestienne, ou bien aux culteurs d’icelle.36
All these descriptions point to religious troubles. In astrology, Jupiter indicates religious matters. At the time of the Lunar Eclipse, Jupiter was, according to present-day software, on 10:31:00 Pisces in the twelfth house, retrograde, in square with Saturn retrograde on 6:36:16 Gemini in the second house.
One might expect that religious troubles would be the main topic of Les Significations…, but this is not the case. In Les Significations…, religious troubles are only mentioned briefly.37 The description in Les Significations… of the impact of the Lunar Eclipse is based on Mars, either in the tenth house or in the eighth house conjunct Antares.
The fatal accident and decease of Henry II
On June 30, 1559, during a tournament, Henry II was deadly wounded above his eye. He died ten days later, on July 10, 1559.
De Chavigny went out of his way to prove that Nostradamus predicted the decease of Henry II and the circumstances of his fatal accident, whether in an Almanach, a Pronostication or in Les Significations…
According to De Chavigny, Nostradamus predicted the decease of Henry II in most early 1557. The Présages en prose, book 2, contains commentaries on 1556 and 1557. In the section which is entitled Des présages de l’an 1557, item #223 reads :
Democrite et ses Hebdomades fait mention d’un sub Ariete, Zoroastre le met à 1559, puis felicité.38
De Chavigny wrote in the margin :
Mort du Roy Henry II présagée à 1559.
Henry II was born on March 31, 1519. On that date, the Sun was on the 20th degree of Aries. Apparently, this made De Chavigny to relate #223 with Henry II. He interpreted the words sub Ariete (under Aries) as a reference to the Sun sign of Henry II.
In Présages en prose, book 3, section D’un autre presage sur la mesme année , item #257 reads :
Le 28 de Jun portera grand prejudice aux fruits de la terre & des arbres, mais par opposite portera grande utilité aux mains sanguinaires.
De Chavigny wrote in the margin :
Il remarque icy le jour que fut blessé à mort le Roy Henry II 1559.39
Originally, this prediction was meant for June 28, 1558. The interpretation by De Chavigny is one year and two days off. The day (June 30), turns out to be cited not correctly.
In Présages en prose, book 4, section extrait des commentaires sur l’an 1559, item #130 also deals with June 1559 regarding the supposed pre-impact of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse. The next item, #131, deals with a Last Quarter, which according to present-day software occurred on June 27, 1559, around 22:00 :
Ce dernier quart sera malin & adustif & tellement enflammé qu’il sera cause par son occulte inimitié de susciter plusieurs sinistres evenemens.
In the margin, De Chavigny noted :
Sinistres evenemens de la fin de Jun 1559 [Henry II blessé à mort].
Item #133 reads :
Quelque grand Prince, Seigneur & dominateur souverain mourir, autres defaillir, & autres grandement pericliter.
In the margin, De Chavigny noted :
Icy infailliblement est presagée la mort du Roy Henry II.
Item #134 does not mention anything about the decease of Henry II, as noted by Halbronn in 1999 :
La France grandement augmenter, triompher, magnifier, & beaucoup plus le sien Monarque.
De Chavigny, however, thinks Nostradamus wrote this to disguise the impending decease :
Ceci est dit pour deguiser le fait.
Regarding the decease of Henry II, two dates are important: June 30, 1559, the date of the fatal accident, and July 10, 1559, the date of his decease. The comments of De Chavigny deal - directly or indirectly - with the date of the fatal accident of Henry II, which resulted in his decease. Apparently, he did not find any prediction that referred to the decease date.
In Présages en prose, book 4, section D’un autre presage sur la mêsme année , item #318 reads :
Vers le milieu de printemps mourrount plusieurs grand presonnages tant du temporal que du spirituel, qui [avant] leur subite surprise avoyent deliberé de faire de garnds cas. DIEU y aura preveu.
In the margin, De Chavigny notes :
Encores cecy se peut entendre du trespass dudit Roy H[enry] & delibe[ration] sure Geneve.40
It must be noted that the fatal accident of Henry II occurred on June 30, 1559, i.e. 2,5 weeks after the beginning of the summer, instead of halfway the spring season.
In La premiere face du Ianus François, De Chavigny also discussed the decease of Henry II. In the Brief Discours sur la vie de m. Michel de Nostredame, he writes about commentaries of Nostradamus, especially on July 1559.41 De Chavigny refers to the decease of Henry II. Regarding the Centuries, this is the only historical fact to which he refers. He adds the decease of Henry II to Nostradamus’ palmares of predictions. However, there is no document in which Nostradamus comments July 1559.
While commenting the Présage for January 1559, he wrote that the decease of Henry II was the preparation to all succeeding troubles.42
De Chavigny wanted to demonstrate, by means of (his comments on) the predictions of Nostradamus, that the decease of Henry II and Francis II was a prelude to the religious wars in France, starting in 1562.
The use of the Eclipsium omnium…
Regarding the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, Leovitius gave a technical description together with a horoscope, a specification of the duration of the Eclipse and the length of its impact, a description of the locations of the Sun and the Moon during a Lunar Eclipse and an astrological prediction, entitled : praedictio astrologica ad annum domini 1559. & 1560. In his 1879-letter, Torné-Chavigny wrote that the contents of the Eclipsium omnium… regarding the Lunar Eclipse of September 16, 1559, were copied word by word.43 In-depth examination shows that more can be said about this copying.
The only part of the writings of Leovitius regarding the 1559-Lunar Eclipse which was copied in Les Significations… was the praedictio astrologica…. The first two lines of the predictio astrologica… are translated in the beginning of Les Significations…. The remarks about the length of the impact of the (March 1559 - end 1560) and about Mars in the midst of heaven, were not borrowed from Leovitius. The seventh line of the praedictio astrologica… (Cum autem eclipsis Lunae in gradu 2.Arietis fiat…) is translated at the end of p.449 of the Chevignard edition. Everything in between in the Chevignard-edition is added.
The few predictions by Leovitius are heavily elaborated. The sentence Tertio cum Mars dispositor eclipsis octauam domum occupet… is in translated form located in the midst of p.451 of the Chevignard edition. The impact of the Mars-Antares conjunction is heavily elaborated, next the French text follows more or less the text of the praedictio astrologica... until 1/3 of p. 452 of the Chevignard edition. Then a series of additions follow, including the H.T.H.N.S.-abbreviation, and only on 1/3 of p.453 of the Chevignard edition, the original text by Leovitius re-occurs with remarks about Jupiter in the twelfth house. Next, there is a series of elaborations until pp. 454 - 455 of the Chevignard edition (the remarks about Venus in trine with Jupiter). The closing part of the praedictio astrologica… is broken into pieces on pp. 459 - 460 of the Chevignard-edition. The zodiacal signs and regions, mentioned at the end of p.459 and the beginning of p.460, are not copied from predictio astrologica….
The predictions of Leovitius were based on four astrological arguments. The supposed Mars-Antares conjunction was the third argument :
Tertio cum Mars dispositor eclipsis octauam domum occupet, non procul ab Antare constititus, stella fixa…
In Les Significations… this sentence was translated in :
Or il faut entendre que voyant Mars principal dominateur de l’eclipse occupant la 8. maison non esloignée d’Antare qui est une estoile fixe…44
The reference to the third argument of Leovitius was omitted.
The fourth and last argument of Leovitius was the location of Jupiter in the twelfth house :
Vltimo cum Iupiter particeps eclipsis in duodecima dome resideat & ab utroque maligno planeta hostiliter irradietur…
In Les Significations…, this sentence was translated in :
Finablement par le dernier poinct, quant à sa signification, voyant que Iupter participant se trevve […]dans la douzieme maison…45
Although the translation follows more or less the original text in the Eclipsium omnium…, the words finablement, par le dernier poinct don’t make sense, since in Les Significations… there is no mentioning of three other arguments.
In Les Significations…, the year 1605 is mentioned :
…menasse quelque cas que tel autre & beaucoup plus sinister & calamiteux adviendra l’an 1605…46
This addition is not given in the Eclipsium omnium…. Chances are that the author of Les Significations… elaborated the fact that the Solar Eclipse of October 2, 1605 was the last Eclipse, treated by Leovitius in the Eclipsium omnium….47 Leovitius noted that there would be no visible Eclipse in 1606.
In all horoscopes of the Solar and Lunar Eclipses, given in the Eclipsium omnium…, the zodiacal longitudes of the Sun and the Moon are given for the exact date and time moment of the Eclipses, with an exactitude of seconds of arc. In the Pronostication nouvelle pour l’an mil cinq cens cinquante & huict, Nostradamus discusses the Lunar Eclipse of April 2, 1558, 12:32. The given zodiacal longitude of the Moon at the time of the Eclipse was 15:44 Libra.48 Present-day software shows that April 2, 1558, 12:32, is not related to midnight, April 2, 1558, but to noon, April 2, 1558 and must be converted into April 3, 1558, 0:32. The given zodiacal longitude of the Moon (15:44 Libra) is the zodiacal longitude of the Moon on April 2, 1558, 12:00 True Local Time in Venice (15:26:46 Libra). Videl (1558) supposed that he copied noon positions from ephemeredes, calculated for Venice, and did not calculate exact zodiacal longitudes for given time moments.49 The converted day and time moment (April 3, 1558, 0:32), corresponds with calculations with present-day software for Venice. The zodiacal longitude of the Moon: 22:27:27 Libra. According to Leovitius, this Lunar Eclipse occurred on April 2, 1558, 13:01 = April 3, 1558, 01:01 True Local Time for Augsburg. The zodiacal longitude of the Moon: 22:44:13 Libra.
Leovitius discussed the April 3 1558 Lunar Eclipse and the April 18 1558 Solar Eclipse. Nostradamus only discussed the April 3 1558 Lunar Eclipse. The given zodiacal longitude of the Moon was not the one, calculated by Leovitius, but the one at noon on April 2, 1558. Nostradamus did not mention the April 18 1558 Solar Eclipse. He specified this Eclipse as an ordinary New Moon.50 This, and the mentioning of the zodiacal longitude of the Moon at noon on April 2, 1558 instead of the exact zodiacal longitude at the time of the Eclipse, implies that he did not use the Eclipsium omnium… while writing the 1558-Pronostication. He used ephemeris data without interpolation.
The treatise on the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse by De Chavigny
The last part of book 4 of the Présages en prose contains an extract of a third treatise by De Chavigny on the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse. His quotations from Les Significations… are not always literal. Sometimes, he omits sentences or remarks which were made in Les Significations…. Sometimes he adds remarks which are not contained in Les Significations…
De Chavigny overlooked the incompatibility of the two series of horoscope data, given in Les Significations…. Item #444 deals with Mars in the midst of heaven.51 Item #456 deals with Mars in the eighth house, conjunct Antares.52
Throughout the treatise, De Chavigny maintains the time span from March 1559 to the end of 1560.53
There are two items which differ essentially from Les Significations…. Item #450 of the treatise reads :
Et pource que l’eclipse de la Lune se fait au 2e degree d’Aries…54
In Les Significations…, the original line reads :
Et pource que l’eclipse est en partie entre Pisces, & du deuxiesme degree d’Aries…55
In the treatise, the mentioning of Pisces in Les Significations… is omitted, the second degree is printed in numbers and the nature of the Eclipse (a Lunar one) is specified.
In the Eclipsium omnium…, this sentence reads :
Cum autem eclipsis Lunae in gradu 2. Arietis fiat…
In this case, the text of the treatise by De Chavigny is a literal translation of the text by Leovitius.
Item #460 of the treatise reads :
En outre voyant que Jupiter participe en ceste eclipse, residant en la XIIe maison, par les deux malins planetes hostilement frappe comme ennemis mortels qu’ils sont de luy…56
In Les Significations…, this sentence reads :
Finablement par le dernier poinct, quant à sa signification, voyant que Iupiter participant se trevve de ceste eclipse aux regions plus orientales approchant du 188.8.131.52.41.42. & 45. degrez de hauteur par la superiorité du iour resident dans la douzieme maison & p. deux mauuais planetes pleins de toute maligne radiation hostilement comme ennemis mortels, & sont irradialement frappés…57
In the treatise, the altitude degrees are omitted.
In the Eclipsium omnium…, the original line reads :
Vltimo cum Iupiter particeps eclipsis in duodecima domo resideat, & ab utroque maligno planeta hostiliter irradietur…
Though not as clear as in the case of item #450, the text of item #460 is also a literal translation of the text in the Eclipsium omnium…. These two items illustrate that De Chavigny, while writing his treatise, was using the Eclipsium omnium… as a reference book.
Summary and conclusions
Les Significations… contains :
- Astrological references to two horoscopes of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse.
- The contents (with elaborations and additions) of praedictio astrologica ad annum domini 1559. & 1560 by Leovitius.
- A reply to critics of Nostradamus.
The predictions in Les Significations… run from March 1559 to the end of 1560.
In the case of the April 1558 Lunar Eclipse, Nostradamus quoted and applied the Ptolemaic rules regarding the time span of the impact, without any change. In the case of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, Présages en prose, book 4, section D’un autre presage sur la mêsme année , item #342 indicates that Nostradamus, according to the Ptolemaic rules, calculated a time span of about 3,5 months, counting from September 1559.
According to Leovitius, the time span of the impact of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse ran from September 16, 1559, until January 4, 1560. The fatal accident and decease of Henry II took place before September 16, 1559. The decease of Francis II took place after January 4, 1560. Both these events could never have been predicted by means of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, since they are beyond the time span of its impact. This Eclipse has no relation with the fatal accident and decease of Henry II or the decease of Francis II.
In Les Significations…, the original time span of the impact of the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse was revised deliberately in both directions: an earlier beginning, a later end. The purpose was to relate the Eclipse to the fateful events to the Valois dynasty. Such an act could only have been done after December 5, 1560, the date of the decease of Francis II. This means that the writing of Les Significations… was not finished on August 14, 1558, but started somewhere after December 5, 1560.
The astrological arguments regarding the time span of about 21 months are untruthful. In Les Significations…, two horoscopes are used. One of them contains the correct position of Mars: the tenth house, the sixth degree of Capricorn. This position is supposed to imply the time span of 21 months since Mars is the ruler of the Eclipse. In the other horoscope, copied from the Eclipsium omnium…, Mars is located in the eighth house on 7:32 Sagittarius, conjunct Antares and in opposition with Saturn retrograde. This configuration too is supposed to imply the time span of 21 months. Leaving the incompatibility aside, traditional rules show that the length of the time span of the impact of an Eclipse depends on whether it is a Solar or Lunar Eclipse. The time span of the impact is calculated by converting the duration of an Eclipse. The position of the ruler of the Eclipse or other planets is not relevant.
The author of Les Significations… did not realize the incompatibility of the two horoscopes ; neither did he realize that he used two zodiacal longitudes of Mars to launch his predictions. He also overlooked the fact that Leovitius specified his calculation of the time span of the Eclipse.
The authenticity of Les Significations… is also dubious because of the original predictions regarding the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse. In Présages en prose, book 4, the comments on series of predictions for 1559, it was mentioned four to five times that its impact would be on religion. In Les Significations…, the emphasis changed from religious troubles into troubles for the Valois dynasty.
Regarding the borrowings from the Eclipsium omnium… in Les Significations… it must be noted that in Pronostication nouvelle pour l’an mil cinq cens cinquante & huict, Nostradamus only discussed the April 2 1558 Lunar Eclipse. Leovitius discussed both the April 2 1558 Lunar Eclipse and the April 18 Solar Eclipse. Nostradamus listed the April 18 1558 Solar Eclipse as an ordinary New Moon.
According to the 1558-Pronostication, the zodiacal longitude of the Moon during the April 2 1558 Lunar Eclipse was 15:44 Libra. In reality, 15:44 Libra was the noon longitude of the Moon on April 2, 1558. The Lunar Eclipse occurred on April 3, 1558, shortly after midnight. According to Leovitius, the zodiacal longitude of the Moon at the time of this Eclipse was 22:44:13 Libra, which is confirmed by present-day software. In Eclipsium omnium…, Leovitius always presented horoscopes, calculated for the time of Eclipses, with Lunar longitudes with an exactitude of seconds of arc. In the case of the 1558-Pronostication, Nostradamus did not rely on the Eclipsium omnium…, but on ephemeris data with an exactitude of minutes of arc. If in the remaining Almanachs and Pronostications, the zodiacal longitudes of the Moon during Eclipses are in all cases the result of copying noon longitudes with an exactitude of minutes of arc, one can conclude that Nostradamus did not at all rely on the Eclipsium omnium…. This makes it very unlikely that he is the author of Les Significations...
The astrological findings, presented in this essay, strengthen the conclusion of Halbronn that Les Significations… cannot be attributed to Nostradamus. The question is if Les Significations… is entirely written by someone else than Nostradamus or if it contains elements, which originally were written by Nostradamus.
Around 1558, Nostradamus was heavily criticized by for example Hercules le François and Laurent Videl. It seems very well possible that he wrote a reply to his critics. This reply, or elements of it, might be included in Les Significations…
It seems impossible that in 1558 Nostradamus wrote a treatise on the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse which later was included in Les Significations…. Nostradamus applied the Ptolemaic rules regarding time spans of Eclipses. It is impossible that he counted with a time span of 21 months. Astrological data in the 1558-Pronostication regarding the April 2 1558 Lunar Eclipse and the April 18 1558 Solar Eclipse (classified as an ordinary New Moon) raise the question if Nostradamus ever relied on the Eclipsium omnium…
There are reasons to consider De Chavigny as the author or compiler of Les Significations…. His purpose of writing / compiling Les Significations… might have been to convince his readers that in 1558, Nostradamus, facing his critics, managed it to predict the decease of Henry II and Francis II, which would be the prelude to the religious wars in France that would begin in 1562. One might also say that these wars were preceded by an Eclipse, an almost classic omen.
He desperately wanted to prove that Nostradamus predicted the circumstances of the decease of Henry II and the decease of Francis II. In his comments upon the fatal accident and decease of Henry II, however, he distorted the original predictions more than once. He even mentioned documents which don’t exist, such as an explanation by Nostradamus of the second Century or his explanations on July 1559.
In his treatise on the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, De Chavigny quoted literally from the Eclipsium omnium… instead of quoting from Les Significations…. This means he owned a copy of the Eclipsium omnium… Theoretically, he was able to enrich contents of this copy with his own writings.
In his treatise on the September 1559 Lunar Eclipse, De Chavigny maintained the time span of 21 months regarding the impact of the Eclipse. He overlooked the incompatibility of the horoscopes in Les Significations…, the meaning of the full title of praedictio astrologicae… and the calculations by Leovitius regarding the time span of the impact. He might have overlooked this also while writing / compiling Les Significations…
Horoscope of Eclipse 1559
according to Leovitius and the modern program AstroScoop Plus
T. W. M. van Berkel
De Meern, September 3, 2003
- Benazra, R. : Répertoire Chronologique Nostradamique, Paris, 1990.
- Chavigny, J.-A. de : La premiere face du Ianus Francois, Lyon, 1594.
- Chevignard, B. : Présages de Nostradamus, Saint-Amand, 1999.
- Halbronn, J., dr. : Le texte prophétique en France. Formation et fortune, Paris, 1999. Available at
- Halbronn, J., dr. : Documents inexploités sur le phénomène Nostradamus, Feyzin, 2002.
- Leovitius, C. : Eclipsium omnium 1554 - 1605, Augsburg, 1556.
- Microsoft / Het Spectrum (publishers) : Encarta ® Winkler Prins 2001 basiseditie. Amsterdam, 2002.
- Ptolemy, C. : Tetrabiblos, Den Haag, 1985.
- Schors (publishers) : AstroScoop Plus for Windows 9x/NT, Amsterdam, 1999.
- Videl, L. : Déclaration des abus, ignorances et seditions de Michel Nostradamus, Avignon, 1558.
1 Benazra, p. 24. The real name of Hercules le Francois is unknown. Most likely, he was a Protestant who attacked Nostradamus, whose predictions would be too favourable for Catholics. Retour
2 Chevignard, p. 443. Retour
3 Chevignard, p. 447. The date of the finishing of the Almanach 1559 is unknown. Usually, Nostradamus wrote the Almanachs during spring (Benazra, private correspondence). Retour
4 Chevignard, p. 450. The text of Les Significations... closed with the line : De Salon ce 14. d’Aoust,1558. Faciebat Michaël Nostradamus Salonae petreae provinciae, 1558. pro annum 1559. & 1560. Retour
5 The front page of Les Significations... does not contain the year of issue (Chevignard, p. 445). The front page mentions a privilege (which gives the publisher exclusive rights and usually contains the date of its grant), but the text of this privilege is not included in the Chevignard-edition. The privilege on p. 442 of the Chevignard-edition which precedes Les Significations..., was printed in the Pronostication nouvelle pour l’an mil cinq cens cinquante & huict, and dated on September 20, 1557. The privilege for the Almanach 1559 (the writing of Les Significations... started shortly after the completion of this Almanach) was granted to Jean Brotot publishers in Lyon on October 7, 1558 (Benazra, p. 29). Retour
6 Chevignard, p. 376 - 383 and 443. Retour
7 Chevignard, p. 444 and p. 446. Retour
8 Chevignard, p. 443. Retour
9 Chevignard, p. 455 : comme plus amplement est declaré à l’interpretation de la seconde centurie de mes Propheties... Retour
10 Chevignard, p. 382 : Ceste interpretation ne fut jamais veuë. Retour
11 Halbronn, 1999. Cf. Chevignard, p. 341 : La France grandement augmenter, triompher, magnifier, & beaucoup plus le sien Monarque (Présages en prose, book 4, Extrait des commentaries sur l’an 1559, item #134). Retour
12 Halbronn, 1999. See also : Halbronn, 2002, p. 29 - 34. Retour
13 Chevignard, p. 451. See also : Leovitius : Eclipsium omnium..., section praedictio astrologica ad annum domini 1559. & 1560. The author regrets that he cannot specify the exact location of the quotations from Eclipsium omnium... since the pages of this book are not numbered. Retour
14 Chevignard, p. 451. Retour
15 Halbronn, 1999 : la conjonction de l’étoile fixe Antarès, coeur du scorpion, avec une planète comme Mars est traditionellement l’annonce de danger à l’oeil. Cf. also Halbronn, 2002, p. 30 - 33. Retour
16 See Halbronn : Le Janus Gallicus et les mots rendus en majuscules ou initiales and L’image oubliée d’un Michel de Nostredame, premier exegete des Centuries In the Chevignard-edition of Les Significations..., the abbreviation H.T.H.N.S. can be found on p. 452. Originally, this abbreviation was used on roman tombstones : Hoc Tumulus Haeredem Non Sequitur (this grave does not belong to the heir). De Chavigny altered the meaning of this abbreviation in : Hoc Testamentum Haeredes Non Sequuntur (the heirs do not respect this testament), cf. Chevignard, p. 380. Retour
17 Halbronn : Enseignements du témoignage de Videl pour la recherche nostradamologique. Retour
18 See Site CURA, section Nostradamica. Retour
19 Chevignard, p. 451 : Mars principal dominateur de l’eclipse occupant la 8. maison non esloignée d’Antare... Retour
20 Halbronn : La fortune des emprunts à Leovitius dans les deux êpitres nostradamiques de 1558. Retour
21 Chevignard, p. 448. It should be noted that there is no reference to the square of Mars with both the Moon and the Sun. These squares are important, since Mars is the dispositor of the Moon in Aries, the ruler of the Eclipse. In Capricorn, Mars is in exaltation. Retour
22 Halbronn : La fortune des emprunts de Leovitius... Retour
23 Chevignard, p. 451 - 452. Retour
24 Ptolemy, book 2, chapter 7 (Dutch edition: p. 91 - 92). Retour
25 Chevignard, p. 428. Retour
26 Chevignard, p. 326. According to the Julian calendar, the entrance of the Sun in a zodiacal sign occurred around the 11th-14th day of each month. Retour
27 Chevignard, p. 447 : iusques à l’an 1560. presques inclusivement tout l’année [...] que je doubte encores que les deux années futures... These are the years 1559 and 1560, given the fact that Les Significations... is supposed to be written in 1558. Retour
28 Chevignard, p. 448 : ses effectz craintifs commenceront à pululer le commencement dès Mars 1559.[...] mais principalement depuis le mois de Iuin iusques à la fin de l’année, pour cause que Mars occidental meridional ascendant, est gubernateur d’icelle eclipse etant au milieu du ciel... Retour
29 Chevignard, p. 452 : ...l’aspect diametral de Saturne se vient estendre en plusieurs divisions, comme de quadrat et de sinistre opposition [...] qu’il faut en ceste année, comprenant la suivante... and p. 453 : Iupiter [...] resident dans la douxiesme maison, & p. deux mauuais planets pleins de toute maligne radiation hostilement... The two malefics are Mars (in Sagittarius, sic) and Saturn retrograde (in Gemini). Retour
30 Chevignard, p. 347. Retour
31 These are comments on the Almanach pour 1559 (Benazra, private correspondence). Retour
32 Chevignard, p. 326. Retour
33 Chevignard, p. 341. Retour
34 Chevignard, p. 347. Retour
35 These are comments on La Pronostication pour 1559 (Benazra, private correspondence). Retour
36 Chevignard, p. 361. Retour
37 Chevignard, p. 447 - 450. Retour
38 Chevignard, p. 274. Retour
39 Chevignard, p. 320. Retour
40 Chevignard, p. 362. Retour
41 De Chavigny, p. 6 : ...il a laissé six enfants, trois fils & trois filles. Le premier des masles nommé Cesar, personnage d’un fort gaillard & gentil esprit, est celuy, auquel il a dedié ses Centuries premieres: duquel nous devons esperer de grandes choses si vrai est ce que j’en ai trouvé en plusiers lieux des Commentaires de sondit pere, notamment sur l’an 1559.& mois de Iullet, où ie renvoy le Lecteur... Retour
42 De Chavigny, p. 58. In Présages en vers comment of De Chavigny on this Présage reads: Mort du Roy Henry II. (Chevignard, p.132). Retour
43 Chevignard, p. 446. Retour
44 Chevignard, p. 451. Retour
45 Chevignard, p. 453. Retour
46 Chevignard, p. 454 - 455. Retour
47 The Eclipsium omnium... was published in 1556. At that time, the Julian calendar was in use. In the Eclipsium omnium..., all data are according to the Julian calendar. In October 1582, this calendar was replaced by the Gregorian calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, the October 1605 Solar Eclipse took place on October 12, 1605. Retour
48 Chevignard, p. 428. Retour
49 Videl, section B1. Retour
50 Chevignard, p. 439. Retour
51 Chevignard, p. 377. Retour
52 Chevignard, p. 379. Retour
53 Chevignard, p. 376 (items #441/442) and p. 380 (item #457). Retour
54 Chevignard, p. 378. Retour
55 Chevignard, p. 449 - 450. Retour
56 Chevignard, p. 380. Retour
57 Chevignard, p. 453. Retour
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